Price rises for gas, electricity and prescriptions are no April Fool's Day joke for Britain

Richard Cosgrove
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The prices for prescriptions, dental treatment, utility bills, council taxes and even stamps have all gone up on April Fool's Day.

From 1 April, prescriptions for individual medicines and medical appliances (such as asthma inhalers) have gone up by 20p – a 2.3% increase, slightly above the UK's current rate of inflation of 2.1%.

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Charges for dental treatment have gone up between 90p and £10.50.

"Band one" treatments, such as examinations and cleaning, to have gone up by 90p from £19.70 to £20.60. "Band two" treatments, which covers fillings and root canals have increased by £2.40 to £56.30, while "band three" major dental work, such as crowns and bridges, now costs £244.30 – an increase of £10.60.

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The increases, which were announced by the government in March, also see the charges of wigs and body supports provided by the NHS increase "in line with inflation".

The cost of a colour TV licence has gone up to £147 – a £1.50 increase. Purchasing a TV licence is now required for people who don't own a TV to watch live TV, but use the BBC iPlayer's streaming services on their computers or mobile devices.

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The cost of posting letters by Royal Mail have also gone up. First class stamps for standard letters and and second class stamps for regular and large letters now cost 1p more at 65p, 56p and 76p respectively, while first class stamps for large letters cost 2p more at 98p.

These furtive increases are accompanied by a big jump in council tax bills. At the end of March, the Press Association news agency revealed that 331 of the UK's 353 local authorities will be increasing council tax charges by up to 5%: more than double the current rate of inflation.

Some of these increases are expected to include ring-fenced funding for social care. From this financial year, local authorities were allowed to increase council tax bills by 3%, and direct that money to fund services such as care homes.

The Local Government Association, speaking to the Guardian, said councils had found themselves "unable to turn down the chance to raise desperately needed money for local services" and warned that increases were unlikely to prevent further cutbacks.

The Department for Communities and Local Government said councils had almost £200bn available to them over four years and should be able to deliver "sensible savings to protect frontline services and keep bills down".

A 2015 report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies report – Central Cuts, Local Decision-Making – found that central government primary funding to local government was cut by £21.5bn (36.3% overall) in real terms between 2009-10 and 2014-15.

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